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UKSF Medical Support Unit

Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Combat Medical Technicians (CMT) of UKSF Medical Support Unit provide close medical support for United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF). CMTs assigned to UKSF Medical Support Unit (MSU), or Medical Troop, as it sometimes referred to, are not classed as Special Forces and should not be confused with badged UKSF operators who have trained as patrol medics.

UKSF Medical Support Unit is part of United Kingdom Special Forces Medical Group (UKSF Med Gp), which provides role 1 and role 2 support to the Special Forces. Role 1 care includes carrying out first aid, triage, resuscitation and stabilisation from the point of wounding, back to critical care stations or clearance stations at which role 2 care, including surgery, is administered. Role 2 care may be provided by a dedicated UKSF Med Gp facility.

Roles of UKSF MSU medics include operating in a medical emergency response team (MERT) or medical emergency response team (enhanced) (MERT(E)) - mobile teams of CMTs that get called in to extract and treat battlefield casualties. In Afghanistan, MERTs often deploy via helicopters, such as Chinooks and Merlins.

Other MSU roles include supporting counter terrorism (CT) operations. They may be called on to operate in the maritime environment in support of Special Boat Service (SBS) seaborne operations.

Medical Troop provides detachments to all regular UKSF elements ie 22 SAS, SBS, SRR etc.

Selection And Training

Those wishing to join the unit must pass through a training cadre known as 'Black Serpent'. Entry to Black Serpent is reserved for those with Combat Medical Technician class 1 training. The Black Serpent course is run by Medical Support Unit (MSU), Hereford and features:

Week 1

  • Battlefield Advanced Trauma Life Support (BATLF) level 1
  • Fast rope training
  • Physical fitness tests
  • Swim test

Week 2

Hills phase with march routes across the Brecon Beacons similar to those done for UKSF selection. Candidates will be expected to carry out simulated medical treatments during these marches. The goal of such exercises is to test a CMT's ability perform while under pressure and while exhausted.

CMTs deemed suitable for the UKSF support role then go on to continuation training, including role-specific training e.g. MERT training.

Further Reading / Links

  • 'Battle Mist'
    (excellent painting featuring a UKSF Medical Support Unit MERT in action in Afghanistan)
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